The new exhibit of “Shadows” at MOCA rounds out Andy Warhol ‘s story and his legacy in an unexpected way for this 20th century iconic artist. All of “Shadows” 102 canvases will be displayed at MOCA through February 2nd 2015, with a number of special events planned around Andy’s work and aesthetics. Any time you reference Andy Warhol it conjures up numerous ideas regarding aesthetic choices, lifestyles expressions and celebrity obsessions. Shadows disembarked from this thinking to offer texture, shadows and moods, but it’s done on a grand scale!
My first impression upon viewing these repetitive moody images was to slip my ear buds in and cue of David Bowie‘s album “Low”. While Warhol saw them as a evocative match as an installation in Studio 54, in my mind the album “Low” connects with the often dark elements of these pieces; which, are at times serial in nature and repetitive. Bennet Simpson, MOCA‘s senior Curator put it this way, “The Shadows are one of Warhol’s most mysterious works, full of mood and feeling, repeated over and over, like a song. Seeing them at MOCA provides a special occasion to consider the artist we think we know from a new angle.” The whole north wing of MOCA is devoted to these lingering apparitions and moments of quiet desperation that will circle an observer.
MOCA Director Philippe Vergne shared his thoughts with us, on the floor of the exhibit, of Warhol’s return to painting after his shooting when he said, “Something in the late 70’s happened. In 1977, he got the painting virus back. He went back to the studio. It is self-indulgent to say so, but he went to Paris, to the Contemporary Center and wrote in his journal, “I want to rush back to the studio”. He started to do these abstract paintings. They are abstract and not abstract at the same time. What is very specific about this work to, Warhol is known for stealing image from different fields: advertising and media. He took a photograph, transferred it on silk screen, enlarged it and covered it with different tones and colors of paint. I mentioned that he wanted it to be the decor for Studio 54. There is the repetitive elements of music and it looks like a musical score. And if you listen to the music of the Velvet Underground, it is repetitive music! It’s a droning music! If you think of his films it was the repetition of image and his art to be produced by an assembly line. His studio was a factory. All of that is logical. Even if we think that this body of work is an exception in Warhol’s career, it’s not. His art is extremely consistent.”
The “Shadows” exhibit will continue through February 2nd 2015 with 2 special Film Forum events at MOCA. There will be the Film Forum showing of Andy Warhol’s Kiss (1963) and Blow Job (1964) with live experimental music by Ezra Buchla on November 13th at 7pm. On December 7th Warhol’s Empire (1964) will be presented by Film Forum of this minimalist 16mm masterpiece in its entirety celebrating it 50th anniversary. On both occasions there will be a reception following the film events. Andy Warhol’s “Shadows” was birthed after he’s been shot and his abandonment of painting. To have been reinvigorated by his Paris experience that led to his experiments with abstraction, in works such as the Oxidation, Rorschach, and Camouflage paintings. Andy referred to the 102 piece painting of “Shadows” as Disco Decor with its seriality and repetitive themes. “Shadows” was first exhibited in January 1979 at Heiner Friedrich in New York. For the next few months there is a once in a lifetime chance to view this work in its entirety at MOCA. Any art historian or fan of Andy Warhol’s work will find this an exceptional opportunity consume his transitional work in its entirety with leisure here in LA.